Information Department, Kargil

A brief history of Kargil

Kargil with a population of 1.25 lakhs is scattered over an area of 14,086 Sq. Km. It is situated at a distance of 205 KM from Srinagar towards Leh. Kargil is called the land of Agas in the present day world. It is due to the fact that Kargil is mostly inhabited by Shia Muslims and Agas are the religious head and preachers.

The name Kargil is derived from two words Khar and rKil. Khar means castle and rKil means center thus a place between castles as the place lay between many kingdoms. In the views of many critics, the word Kargil has been derived from the words Gar and Khil. Gar in local language mean ‘Any where’ and Khil means a central place where people could stay. This has the support of the fact that the place is equidistant from Srinagar, Skardo, Leh and Padum with around 200 Kms. With the passage of time Khar rKil or Gar Khil came to be known as Kargil. The present bureaucrat and historian Parvez Dewan in his contribution to the book “Kargil Blunder” reveals that a pioneer namely Kargeel cleared the forests in Poyen and Shilikchay area before the advent of Thatha Khan to dwell in the area and later the place assumed its name.

Gasho Tha Tha Khan is said to be the first renowned crusader who established a dynasty in the area. Tha Tha Khan was a scion of the royal family of Gilgit who captured Kargil in early 8th century. His dynasty ruled the Sod area of Kargil in early period and later permanently settled in Shakar Chiktan area where the dynasty is till in existence. Kacho’s of Kargil are believed to be the off-shoots of Tha Tha Khan. Purik Sulatan believed to be a renowned builder of Kargil who established his domain in Suru area and ruled from Karchay Khar near Sankoo. Kunchok Sherabtan of Fokar, Kalon of Mulback and many Kachos, Sultans and Maqpons of Sod, Pashkum, Wakha, Chiktan, Karchey ruled the area of Kargil and expanded their principalities to be merged with the State of Jammu and Kashmir.

In ancient time, the major part of present Kargil was named as Purik. This name has been given by the Tibetan scholars as the people living in this part of the land have the features of Tibetans. Drass is inhabited by the people of the Dard race and Zanskar has Ladakhi – Tibeto stock. The racial stocks of Kargilis are Aryans, Dard, Tibetans and Mongoloids. Kargil is a place where people of multi- ethnic, multi-languish, multi- cultural are living in. The types of people are Brogpas, Baltis, Purik, Shinas and Ladakhi. The languages spoken are Shina, Balti, Purig , Ladakhi ec. As the Balti and Shina languages are written in Urdu script, Urdu is common in the area.

Islam came to Kargil in 15th century. Mir Shams-ud-Din Iraqi, a scholar of Shia school of central Asia visited Baltistan and Kargil with his missionaries to preach Islam. The chief of Baltistan embraced Islam first and it was later followed by the Chiefs of Kargil. Prior to Mir Shams-ud-Din Iraqi Khawaja Noorbaksh visited Kargil and done a lot of Islamic preaching. Thus Buddhism remained sequeezed in Kargil to the places like Sapi, Phokar, Mulback, Wakha Bodh-Kharboo areas a Darchik Garkon and Zanskar.

Kargil became a separate district in the Ladakh region during the year 1979 when it was bifurcated from the earstwhile Leh ditrict.

Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council Kargil was commissioned in July 2003 in the district. The Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council has 30 Councilors out of which 26 Councilors are elected while the remaining 4 are nominated. Kargil district is consisting of nine administrative Blocks.

Geography of the district

Ladakh is a part of Jammu & Kashmir State situated in North of India consisting of two districts Leh and Kargil. It is a mountainous desert. This region is separated from the rest of the State by high mountains which are crossed through passes at various points. The lowest pass to Ladakh is Zojila which is at 11,500'. It has an area of 4036 Sq. Km. It is situated between 30 to 35 degree North latitude and 75 to 77 degree East West longitude. It is surrounded by Baramullah, Srinagar and Doda Districts in the South-West, Leh District in the East, Himachal Pradesh in the South and Pakistan in the North-West. The District is divided into four high level natural Valleys namely the Suru Valley, the Drass Valley, the Indus Valley and the Upper Sindh Valley of Kanji Nallah Valley.

Zojila and Fotulla passes situated at the height of 3567 and 4192 meters above the sea level are called gateways for Kashmir Valley and Leh District for entry in Kargil District. High peaks of Namikala and Penzila are called the sky pillars of the District.

The whole District is of high rocky mountains, desert arid, snow bound and devoid of natural vegetation. It occupies unique position because of its high altitude area in the country which ranges from 8000 to 23000 ft. above the sea level.

The topography of the region is mountainous with little or no vegetation. The mountains are of sedimentary rocks and are in process of disintegration due to weathering. The terrain being hilly, available land for agriculture is meager. The summer being short, only one crop of local grim or wheat is grown.

The District Headquarter is situated at a distance of 205 Kms from Srinagar and 230 Kms from Leh. Kargil district comprises of Kargil town and 127 inhabited villages and 2 un-inhabited villages.

The normal concept of a village as a contiguous and compact habitation does not apply in Kargil district. Here a number of house holds have settled down here and there depending upon land availability and irrigation facility. These clusters are spread on large distant and in view of good number of Rivers, etc.. The area of the district is mountainous with difficult terrain.

The climate and soil condition of the district

Ladakh lies on the rain shadow side of the Himalayan where dry monsoon winds reaches Kargil after being robbed of its moisture in plains and the Himalayan mountain. The district combines the condition of both arctic and desert climate. Therefore Ladakh is often called “ COLD DESERT”. Rainfall in the area is negligible. Heavy snowfall is experienced in winter. The average snowfall is about 2 to 5 mtrs. in villages. In winter mercury drops to minus 48 degree Celsius at Drass (Kargil), which is the second coldest inhabited place in the world after Siberia. The main features of the climate are :-

  • Wide diurnal and seasonal fluctuations in temperature with -48°C in Winter and +35° C in Summer.
  • Precipitation is very low with annual precipitation of 10 cm mainly in the form of snow
  • Soil is thin, sandy and porous
  • The entire area is partly or devoid of any natural vegetation
  • Irrigation is mainly through channels from the glacier-melted snow

The climate of the District is milder than that of Ladakh (Leh). The villages situated on the banks of Indus and on the Sangham of Suru and Drass rivers are very warm and fine. The snow falling happens to be quite heavy and rainfall normal but it does not help in irrigating the fields. The crops are subjected to irrigation. In Nutshell, the winter season of the District experiences severe cold and temperature often goes down redundantly but summer season remains dry and little hot.

The soil of the District is sandy to loamy in nature and deficient in organic matter and availability of phosphorus and potashes low and mixed with stones and gravels . It is shallow in formation, weak friable and vulnerable to all types of erosion. Fertility of the soil varies from place to place and growing season is very short. The average rain fall at Kargil is 26 cms only. The district has some deposits of chromed at Drass and around it. Copper is also found in Lungnak valley, Zanskar and Tai-Suru. Besides, deposits like lime stone, marble and building material are also existing. However, these mineral resources are yet to be exploited.

About population and density of the district

District Kargil is extended over an area of 14036 Sq. Kms and comprises of 129 villages. As per Census-2011 population of the District was recorded as 1,40,802 souls. There was change of 18.02 percent in the population compared to population as per 2001. In the previous census of India 2001, Kargil District recorded increase of 33.55 percent to its population compared to 1991. . The biggest ethnic group is of Muslims, followed by Buddhists and others. Details of population by blocks, Tehsils, rural and urban areas, religions, groups, age. According to Census 2011 The total Population of the district is 140802 out of this the Rural Population is 124464 & Urban Population is 16338 the decadal Growth rate is 19.67 %in Urban & 20.18% in Rural. The Sex ratio of the District is 883 per thousand male.

Name of the Block Units Census 2001 Census 2011
1. Kargil( mAC+Rural) Souls 40718 41512
2.  Drass Souls 11662 21988
3.  Shakar-Chiktan Souls 9606 11233
4. Shargole Souls 10893 11728
5.  Sankoo Souls 16198 17735
6.  G. M. Pore Souls 9716 12754
7.  Tai-Suru Souls 8345 10059
8.  Zanskar Souls 10090 11653
9.  Lungnak Souls 2079 2140
Total 119307 140802

How to approach to the district

Kargil District is situated at a distance of 205 Kms from Srinagar and 230 Kms from Leh. It is connected to Srinagar and Leh through National Highway. The District remains cut off with rest of the world during the winter season for more than seven months. But Leh - Kargil road remains open throughout the year.

There is an alternative means of transportation to and from the District when the roads get blocked in winter that is Air Link via Leh. Indian Airlines, Jet Airways, King Fisher are the lifeline of Ladakh during winter. Indian Airlines operates flights from Leh to Jammu, Srinagar and Delhi. While as Jet Airways operates flight from Leh to Delhi only.

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